Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/16

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INTRODUCTION.

was simple and unostentatious, but he was by no means insensible to the pleasures of the table, especially in society. He was a kind and indulgent master, and a faithful friend. In fact, an unruffled amiability, relieved by a keen and well-expressed perception of other men's follies, seems to have been the leading feature in our author's conduct, and the guiding principle of his writings. The beautiful compliment paid to the memory of his father,[1] is unsurpassed either as a description of what education ought to be, or as a grateful tribute of filial affection.

At the age of fifty-seven, in the year 8, b. c., Horace died suddenly at Rome, having nominated Augustus as his heir. Mæcenas died about the same time, almost fulfilling the melancholy prediction of his poet friend, though it is uncertain which first departed from life. In death they were scarcely separated, the remains of Horace being deposited near those of Mæcenas on the Esquiline hill.

The popularity of Horace, as a writer, is, perhaps, unexampled. Read, recited, and quoted in his own time by all classes, throughout the cheerless period of superstition and analytical dullness which oppressed the middle ages, he was one of the few bright spirits, in whose jokes geniality the Schoolman might forget even his Latin Aristotle. His works became a constant source of delight and imitation to almost all subsequent poets, especially those of Italy, while commentary upon commentary began to point out beauties, and clear away difficulties. His manifold imita-

  1. Satire i. 6.